Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Quakes and Volcanoes

On Monday the volcano on Montserrat shot a cloud of ash more than five miles into the sky, signaling a warning call for anybody still left on Montserrat. For us higher up the island chain here on St. Croix it signals a few days of haze and ashen residue on rooftops and windows. For me it signals allergies with lots of sneezing.

This photo is a view from our home. You can see the green lush vegetation, Salt River Bay in the middle of the photo, and way in the distance on the far right of the horizon line, there's a faint trace of Buck Island. It is faint thanks to the Montserrat haze, because otherwise we would have a very clear view of the island.

Yesterday the local paper reported the news from Montserrat alongside an article about a quake that rattled the Virgin Islands on Sunday morning. It had a magnitude of 4.4 but we apparently slept through it. What astounded me was the report that in the 10 days of this year, we've already experienced 22 quakes!

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Marilyn said...

Hi Jamila, linking over from Maria's. I remember when she told me you'd moved to St. Croix...hard to believe it was that long ago already! We were on St. Thomas for 5 years...left March '05. Looking forward to reading here. :)

12:52 AM  
Anonymous Marilyn said...

Oooh, meant to say re the quakes...YEAH, I KNOW! I had NO idea that place was home to so many quakes before we moved there. And having lived through the big one in S.F. in '89, it made me a bit nervous when I felt them. ;)

12:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are a lot of quakes in the virgin islands/Puerto Rico because it lies on a subduction fault. All details can be found here:

http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/staffpages/utenbrink/my%20publications/2004jb003031.pdf

It's actually a fairly dangerous place to be. At least 6 quakes up to magnitude 7 have been recorded in the last few hundred years in the vicinity of the virgin island trench as it subducts under the American plate. It's postulated that the Virgin Islands themselves came to be just like many mountain ranges due to the subducting plate rising it up over it. At one time the Applachians were as high as the Andes but they eroded over millions of years after the subductions that raised them subsided. But that is ongoing at the virgin islands so you can assume it will always be quaking a lot. If it gets quiet then you should worry because stress builds up and it could trigger a more massive quake.

11:15 AM  

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